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Intoxicated driver was high, not drunk, Portage police say

Intoxicated driver was high, not drunk, Portage police say

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Eric Rickhoff

Eric Rickhoff

PORTAGE — A 33-year-old man, who tested negative for alcohol consumption after being seen repeatedly striking the curb along U.S. 6, was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated after a blood test revealed drugs in his system, police said.

A Portage police officer said she was driving west along U.S. 6 at 12:11 a.m. Thursday when she saw a motorist, later identified as Eric Rickhoff, of Schererville, strike the curb three times and then turn north on Swanson Road into the oncoming lane.

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Rickhoff told the officer he was driving to the far right because he already had struck the median and was attempting to avoid doing that again, police said.

While Rickhoff stumbled, spoke slowly and "thick tongued," and failed sobriety tests, a portable breath test returned negative for alcohol use, according to police.

Police said they found a THC vape pen cartridge in the vehicle's glove box. Rickhoff reportedly told the officer he had been in California and smoked marijuana within the past 72 hours.

Rickhoff, who also faces a charge of possessing marijuana, said he takes medication for depression and anxiety, police said.

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When a female passenger from Portage requested to take the vehicle rather than have it impounded, police first required a mouth swab to check for recent marijuana use and she refused, the report states.

"You know, you don't have to be mean to me about it," the woman reportedly told police. "We smoked a little weed way earlier."

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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